"The key goal ... in 2006 is to end [bilateral] negotiations on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization with the United States and also to sign [bilateral] protocols with Australia, Switzerland and Columbia," German Gref told senior ministry officials.
Under WTO regulations, Russia must sign bilateral agreements with all members of the 58-nation WTO Working Party established to monitor its accession. Gref said last year Russia had signed bilateral protocols with 19 WTO member states, and completed negotiations with 11.
Gref urged his colleagues to focus on Russia's foreign economic strategy and said companies should be protected against hostile takeovers.
"In this context, a major objective is to consolidate efforts to protect companies against unscrupulous competition both on domestic and foreign markets," he said.
In February, Gref said there had been 117 hostile takeovers in 2005 in Moscow alone, against 177 in 2004 and 151 in 2003. The minister also criticized judges who hand down biased decisions that lead to corporate conflicts.
Last year, every Russian trade representation received instructions on trade turnover and investment, and they are to report about their annual operation by the end of 2006 for the ministry to decide on their efficiency, Gref said.